Movie Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Zadie Perera

“It’s just a cartoon”- These are the exact words I said to myself as my friends and family ranted about this movie. Everyone I met who watched the movie loved it, and told me how amazing it was, while even those who hadn’t yet seen Spider-Man were convinced that it was special. I was thinking anything but “it was just a cartoon” as I walked out of the Regal Cinema.

Directed by Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, and Robert Persichetti Jr., Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) is an action-packed thriller that brings a fresh, new perspective to the beloved classic superhero, while retaining its own originality and innovation through a groundbreaking visual style that will make your jaw drop. The film stars awkward Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), and follows him as he grapples with newly-acquired Spider powers and a new posse of spider-men. And women. And a pig?

Throughout the film, Miles struggles with finding his own identity and with fitting in among the other, more experienced spider-heroes. The film also follows a history of father and son tensions around his changing schools. This film has earned itself a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97% and has also been nominated for the Best Animated Picture of the Year Award for the 91st Academy Awards. It has already been chosen as the Golden Globes’ Best Animated Feature.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this movie was the multitude of perspectives it offered on the classic superhero Spider-man, using aesthetic and film techniques to portray anime, cartoon, and monochromatic takes on the central character. This use of visual tools gives each spider-themed character a new texture and personality—from the adorable Peni Parker to the downcast, miserable Spider-Noir.

This film is not a traditional portrayal of Spider-Man and is certainly not suited for those who prefer a slow-moving, complex plot. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse presents a fast-paced, comprehensive, and action-adventure structure, which is incredibly engaging, but may be too dense for some. But if there’s one thing that’s clearer than anything else to me, it’s that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is so much more than “a cartoon.”